Arranging a Manuscript

WIN_20170330_15_53_44_Pro_LIPart alchemy, part hard work, and a big space to lay out all the pieces, this is how a manuscript comes together.

The deadline for submissions for the 3 Nations Anthology was March 15. In the ensuing weeks, the pieces were read and reread many times.

There are many ways to put a book like this together. Alphabetized by author, sorted by subject, or genre, all are valid constructions. I looked for the conversations between the pieces, to see where subject and tone collided or harmonized. At Off the Coast, every issue was produced this way.

WIN_20170330_14_44_18_Pro_LII carted the manuscript to the University of Maine Machias and spread everything out on tables in the art room on the second floor of Powers Hall. It was a wonderful, quiet place to work in. Before long, the manuscript was stretched out across thirty feet of table space. With a deep breath, I dove in and started reading, and sorting, and moving the pieces around. The physicality of this process is amazing. The words dance on the pages and you in turn, dance with the pages. It feels much like that scene in Fantasia with Wizard Mickey conducting and everything around you, the tables, the marble busts, the pages, the light itself swirling into something magical.

The manuscript developed neighborhoods, then regions, and finally with some shuffling of pieces, the order was set. Pretty much, I expected to receive one more piece of writing that had been promised. A single sheet of paper, with the title and author’s name stood in by proxy and held a place.

WIN_20170330_14_44_29_Pro_LIWhen I returned to my desk and started ordering the pieces in a computer file, there needed to be some more tweaks, and when the first draft was printed, a slight shuffle again. Through subsequent drafts and formats, this order has stayed the same.

Below is the line up, with a wonderful mix of poets and writers, from those being published for the first time to a Pulitzer Prize nominee.


WIN_20170330_15_52_28_Pro_LI (2)


Elizabeth Sprague, “This That This”

Danielle Woerner, “Super moon, rising”

David R. Surrette, “Acadian Archaeology”

Leonore Hildebrandt, “Terminal Moraine”

Cheryl Savageau, “The Green Quilt”

Stephanie S. Gough, “Borderline”

JD Rule, “Chance of Afternoon Showers”

J. Kates, “A Lake in the Woods”

Cheryl Savageau, “Water/Nebi”

Karen Skolfield, “Wait Five Minutes”

Donna M. Loring, “Tribal/State Relations in the State of Maine USA”

Rowan Miller, “A Forest Journey”

Lee Sharkey, “In the Wind”

Michele Leavitt, “Wood Lot in April”

Catherine Schmitt, “One Letter Away: A Word Ladder”

Charles McGowan, “Lost and Found Logs”

Cheryl Savageau, “What It Is For”

Bruce Pratt, “Le Barachois”

Leonore Hildebrandt, “On the Way”

Joyce Lorenson, “Agronomist, Meteorologist, Mechanic, Midwife”

Karen Skolfield, “Heirloom”

Emma Suárez-Báez, “A Price to Pay”

Jeri Theriault, “Names Properly”

Cindy Veach, “How a Community of Women”

David R. Surette, “Homecoming”

Jéanpaul Ferro, “The Abyssal Plains”

Dan Crowfeather McIsaac, “Over the Wall”

Chuck Kniffen, “Downeast Odyssey: a trilogy of ultra-short stories”

Michael R. Brown, “Names”

Frederick Lowe, Waverly and the C-Notes”

Carl Little, “Spring Pick-up”

Kathleen Ellis, “Taking Off the Plates”

John Perrault, “Wapizagonke”

Karin Spitfire, “Allegiance”

Barbara Chatterton, “Sweetfern”

Leslie Wood, “Storyteller”

Grey Held, “Hardware Store, Bar Harbor”

Susan Johnson, “The Hill”

Robert J. Ward, “The Descent into Harvey”

Michael R. Brown, “March Hill”

Patrick Gentry Pierce, “Hawk’s View”

Cynthia Huntington, “Bill”

Grace Sheridan, “After El Faro

Danielle Woerner, “Jazz trumpet wind”

David R. Surrette, “The Rosary”

Mark Melnicove, “Fact of Fate”

Wendy Cannella, “a mere geometry of light”

Bunny L. Richards, “Winter Madness”

Patricia Smith Ranzoni, “Facing Both East & West at the Same Time”

Frances Drabick, “My Mother and the Adze”

Caroline Misner, “They Could Be Stars”

Ellie O’Leary, “Welcome to Great Village”

Leonore Hildebrandt, “Thinking Potatoes”

Dennis Camire, “Observations on the Garden, Fourth of July”

Andrea Suarez Hill, “Smithy”

Sharon Mack, “Smelting”

J. C. Elkin, “Big Fish Story”

Susan Reilly, “Downeast One-upmanship”

Danielle Woerner, “June bugs hurtle by”

Carol Hobbs, “At the Supper Table”

Jason Grundstrom-Whitney, “Cedar, Sage, Sweetgrass”

Sonja Johanson, “Three Deer in Oquossoc”

Rob Hunter, “The Illuminati Owe Carl 57 Cents”

Paul Hostovsky, “Privilege”

Susan Johnson, “Falls Reversing”

Susan Nisenbaum Becker, “Borrowed Dust”

Fredda Paul, “Eli-kisi-kikuhut Cihpolakon”

Sarah Xerar Murphy, “Turtle Island Turtle Rattle”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s